“Petro Caribe Roll it”- that’s the new catch phrase that this United Democratic Government has been singing ever since the bill went through all its stages in the House of Representatives. The Alba Petro Caribe Act has received criticism from the unions and from the opposition, People’s United Party. So much so that in order to calm the naysayers, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has drafted an amendment to the Act which he read to the media this afternoon.
“The money borrowed from APBEL shall be kept in a fund at the Central Bank of Belize which fund shall form part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Belize and may be withdrawn from time to time as the need arises. The withdrawal and spending of the said money from the Central Bank shall be in full measure, subject to the Finance and Audit Reform Act and all other laws regulations and procedures applicable to monies forming part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Belize” that is how it is at the present time but because they keep saying it is not so, we are spelling out. Repealing subsection 3 and replacing it by the following: “The money borrowed from APBEL may be used to finance capital projects, provide social and community assistance the poor, socially marginalized and other sectors of the community, pay compensation relating to government’s nationalizations of BTL and BEL, assist with commercial and Super bond debt buy back and for any other similar legitimate purposes.” They say that I can spend at large and take the money and put it in my pocket, hopefully this will deal with that. And then by inserting the following new subsection 4 after subsection 3: “It is hereby provided that all money borrowed from APBELL shall be reported to the National Assembly quarterly and shall require the passage of a retrospective supplementary allocations for any spending done in the reporting quarter that was not provided for in the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure. At the time of quarterly reporting a prospective supplementary allocation shall also be required for all spending proposed to be done in the following quarter if such spending has not been provided for by the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure.” So the argument that we will just spend wildly and only account after the fact or not at all will be more than fully answered by the amendments that I am going to take to the house.”